January 16, 2021

Acclaimed Singer Brian Cheney of Lyme Performs ‘A Century on Broadway’ with Pianist Cathy Venable; Free on YouTube

Brian Cheney of Lyme, Conn.

LYME — One hundred years, 11 decades, and over five hours of performing!

Those numbers represent the efforts of internationally-acclaimed crossover artist, Brian Cheney of Lyme and Broadway pianist, Cathy Venable of Tulsa, Okla., who, in a remarkable collaboration, have recorded an entire catalogue of a century of hits from musical theater.

The finished product, titled A Century On Broadway, is now available as a YouTube Playlist at this link.

Asked in an interview conducted electronically how the project came about, Cheney explained, “In the beginning of April I discovered a platform for artists to perform and broadcast from their homes. It’s called Stageit and it’s been ideal for me to use.” It’s a “Pay What You Can” site and I typically perform half-hour concert programs.”

He continued, “Since April, I have performed 25 individual programs ranging from opera, operetta and classical art song to Musical Theater and wonderful music from Movie Musicals. After my 10th program, I discovered a way for me to collaborate with one of my favorite artists.”

Cathy Venable of Tulsa, Okla.

Cheney went on to to say that the artist’s name is Cathy Venable and note that she is not only, “a Broadway pianist and conductor,” but also, “Someone I have performed concert programs with many times in the past.” Working together — but geographically separated — during the COVID-19 pandemic in their home studios respectively in Lyme, Conn., and Tulsa, Okla., Cheney and Venable determined to give the concept of a joint venture “a try.”

Their first performance was, in Cheney’s words, “A wonderful English Song Cycle by Ralph Vaughan Williams called “The Songs of Travel,” and from the moment that was completed, Cheney says enthusiastically, “We’ve never looked back!”

The critically acclaimed duo have now completed 11 segments of Broadway songs with each one spanning a decade from the 1910s through the 2010s. Each decade can be accessed separately on the YouTube link and each offers a variety of numbers — some well-known, others less so — from that decade.  View the full list of songs for each decade at this link.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the complete works are offered on YouTube at no charge. People can enjoy them as many times as they wish at no charge. Asked why he and Venable had made the decision to do that, Cheney responded, “Cathy and I realized that once we started performing different Musical Theater Decades programs that it would be a wonderful idea for us to look at an entire century of the evolution of the Broadway Musical. We premiered each program on Stageit to amazing audiences and some really fantastic industry people as well.”

Noting that, “In attendance were people like, Andy Einhorn (an incredible music director on Broadway) Ron Young (an original cast member for Hello Dolly) and many more, Cheney added, “We realized that we had something very special and so we decided to offer it for free on YouTube … it’s a wonderful retrospective of how the Broadway musical has evolved and changed over a century.

Described as a “crossover” artist, meaning he is “a student of style as well as having a very strong command of vocal technique,” Cheney can move effortlessly across different styles of music. He credits Jerry Hadley, whom he describes as, “my mentor and [a] legendary tenor,” with his own ability to move seamlessly between opera, Broadway musicals, and other musical genres.

Cheney, who moved with his family to Lyme in 2012, is sought-after opera singer both nationally and internationally. He has also immersed himself in the local community, directing musicals in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, singing regularly at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, and supporting numerous local non-profits including High Hopes with sold-out performances.

With The Daily Gazette saying, “Cheney’s voice was like spun gold,” KUSC Los Angeles stating that Cheney is, “The next great tenor,” and Broadway World commenting, “When Broadway opens again, there will surely be a spotlight begging for Brian Cheney,” it seems certain that A Century On Broadway will be a major success.

We heartily recommend readers to take this special opportunity to enjoy a real gift of music!

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